See the heart of China and get under the skin of all of its highlights, made easy with the vast high-speed train network across the country. You’ll be flying!. Greet your host in a guesthouse near the Great Wall and join in on a dumpling making demonstration for dinner to get ready for your Great Wall hike the next morning.. Soak in the serenity and fresh mountain air in a temple stay in Mt Qingcheng and connect your mind, body and soul with a meditation session and tai chi class.. Immerse yourself in the local countryside in the Yangshuo region, exploring the riverbanks and karsts by bike, and stopping by a local home for a freshly prepared lunch.
Hit the major sights and sounds of China on a 12-day adventure from Beijing to Hong Kong. See the Great Wall’s Mutianyu section, the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, giant pandas in Chengdu, striking limestone karsts in Yangshuo and the harbourside city lights of Hong Kong. Travel with ease on China’s modern high-speed rail network and get up close and personal with local living with a countryside lunch and temple stay. With a knowledgeable small-group leader at the helm, they’ll make sure your China adventure is full of insightful history, delicious cuisine and unforgettable experiences.
Breakfast Included: 1 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included: 3
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. If arriving earlier, there is loads to do in this amazing city. Get acquainted with Beijing on your own before joining your group and leader for the welcome meeting, then head out for an optional first night dinner. Perhaps go nuts and order your Peking duck for your first meal in the country. First the skin is carved and served in pancakes, next the rest is chopped and cooked up into a soup. Delicious!
In the morning, head on a walking tour through the hutongs – ancient alleyways that are lined by traditional courtyard houses. People say it is hutongs that truly define the spirit of old Beijing. Then visit the symbolic power centre of China: Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. Framed by the Gate of Heavenly Peace, Mao's Mausoleum and the Great Hall of the People, it's a place of pilgrimage for the Chinese tourists who consider it to be the heart of their nation. Then cross the Golden Water bridge north to the square and enter the grounds of the enormous Forbidden City, which was built more than 600 years ago and has been off limits to commoners for almost all that time. Despite the transformation of the city around it, the Forbidden City looks much like it always has. Explore the halls and courtyards and you'll appreciate the might and grandeur of the Imperial Chinese court during the Ming and Qing dynasties. In the afternoon, pack an overnight bag and drive to a guesthouse in a village at the foot of the Great Wall (approximately 2 hours). Be welcomed by your host for the night and learn a few tricks while they show you how to make dumplings together for dinner.
This morning you’ll visit Mutianyu section of Great Wall and spend some time exploring, taking photos and learning the history of this mighty sight. An incredible piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6000 kilometres west from Beijing. It was originally constructed to protect Chinese empires from invaders from the north and continues to be one of the country's most remarkable achievements and a worldwide icon. Mutianyu section is one of the best-preserved and has a high density of watch towers dotted along the wall. There is also the option to ride a toboggan down the hills near the Great Wall too, if you’re after a bit of a thrill! Afterwards, return to Beijing for a free afternoon and evening (approximately 2 hours).
Take a high speed train from Beijing to Xi’an (approximately 5-6 hours). Arrive in the mid-afternoon, then take an orientation walk with your group leader to get your bearings. Within the ancient city walls, Xi'an is very walkable and it's highly suggested to hop on a bike on the city wall for a different perspective of Xi'an city. The city also has a wonderful Muslim Quarter, and in the evening your leader will take you to wander past quaint shops and lively markets. For tonight’s included dinner, you'll get to try a range of different snacks to get a real sense of the passion for food the locals have – be it lamb kebabs, persimmon cake, cold noodles, fried rice with pickles, or a varied range of dried fruits. Your leader will make the best recommendations depending on the season, so you definitely won’t go hungry.
Today you’ll journey outside of Xi’an (approximately 2 hours) and visit what is undoubtedly one of the man-made wonders of the world – the Terracotta Warriors. Learn all about this incredible archaeological find, which was discovered after being buried for 2000 years. These clay statues depicting soldiers, horses and chariots were commissioned by the emperor Qin Shi Huang as part of his mausoleum after he ascended to the throne in 264 BC. See over 1000 warriors, each individually sculpted from clay and with a different costume, height and facial expression. In the afternoon, return to Xi’an and have some free time. Perhaps visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and its squares, which now is a popular hotspot in the city for the locals – music, fountains, dancing, and lots of food too.
Chengdu - Mt Qingcheng
Embark on another high speed train journey, this time to Chengdu (approximately 3 hours). Then, transfer to Mt Qingcheng (approximately 1.5 hours). Mt Qingcheng is considered one of the main birthplaces of Taoism in China, since this mountain was the place philosopher Zhang Ling founded the doctrine of Chinese Taoism in 142 AD. Most of the temples on the mountain represent the main teachings of Taoism, having been built in the Jin and Tang dynasties. You’ll visit the front section of the mountain, passing stunning nature and cultural sites after arrival. After experiencing this important historical region, head to your temple stay for the evening. Yuanming Temple is Taoist and welcomes guests inside its walls to stay. Enjoy dinner cooked on site for you with ingredients from their own garden. Then, perhaps you’d like to join in a meditation session, or instead, simply relax with the serenity of the temple and mountain around you.
In the morning, there's probably no more suitable place to learn about tai chi (known as taiji in Chinese) than at a Taoist temple. Follow your master and learn about the human-nature harmony philosophy deeply embedded in this martial art and the religion. After your body and mind is awakened, take a private transfer to Dujiangyan City where you’ll find the Panda Breeding Centre. This centre is an affiliate organisation to the breeding centre in Chengdu and is a research centre focused on the study and practice of releasing the Giant Panda back into the wild. See the conservation efforts in action amidst the forests of bamboo, and in the afternoon, travel back to Chengdu. Here, embark on a walking tour through Tianfu Square (spot the giant statue of Chairman Mao!) and the People’s Park, and perhaps take the chance to sit down in a traditional tea house. In the evening, be sure to taste Chengdu’s culinary offerings. After being listed as a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO, you know you’re in for a treat.
Embrace a full day of travelling from Chengdu to Yangshuo today. Hop on a high speed train from Chengdu to Guilin (approximately 7 hours), then transfer to your hotel in Yangshuo. Surrounded by limestone karsts, Yangshuo is super popular with both international and local tourists and has become a hub for those wanting to explore a natural side of China. Take a walk through the town with your leader on arrival and head down to the Li River to get a feel for a landscape, having been immortalised in many paintings and summed up by Han Yu, a Tang dynasty poet: “The river winds like a green silk ribbon, while the hills are like jade hairpins”.
This morning, strap on your trainers and get active with a bike ride through the striking natural landscape. You’ll head into the countryside and gain a true insight into rural Chinese life. Stop by a local house for a delicious home-cooked meal from locally grown produce. You’ll have a guide during the ride, and helmets and bike rental are included for today. The evening is free for you to explore Yangshuo’s lively restaurant and bar scene, so perhaps grab yourself some pork stuffed tofu or ‘beer fish’ (a regional specialty of fish simmered in a fragrant broth).
Today is as clear as a Yangshuo spring day, and there are plenty of optional activities to choose from. You could begin the day by focusing your body and mind with a morning tai chi class or kung-fu lesson. Perhaps try your hand at Chinese calligraphy, or book in a relaxing cruise down the Li or Yulong River. You could visit the market to shop with the locals and get a feel for the regional produce, and perhaps put this new knowledge to use in a cooking class at the Yangshuo Cooking School. Later, perhaps book in to watch the Liu San Jie Impression Light Show, which runs every night and has been staged by 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Opening Ceremony director, Zhang Yimou. It is best to book tickets in advance to ensure you have an ideal viewing and get to see the show from the official seating area.
Take a private bus from your Yangshuo Hotel to Guilin North Station, and then board a bullet train to Shenzhen North Station (approximately 3.5 hours). Then it’s a short metro train from Shenzhen to the Hong Kong border. The China-Hong Kong border is busy, so there can often be a bit of a wait to get through and a lot of patience is required. It could take up to 2 hours to clear immigration and customs on both sides. Your bags will be with you during this time. Then you’ll walk the short distance from the train station to the border, go through procedures to exit China, and finally enter Hong Kong. Once all that's done, you’ll travel on the KCR train to central Hong Kong. Go on an orientation walk with your leader, then maybe check out the Temple Street night market or the light show at Victoria Harbour. This evening, perhaps organise a celebratory dinner with your fellow travellers to share your trip memories – your group leader will know of some nice restaurants to choose from.
There are no activities planned for the today, so you are free to leave at any time. Check out time is 12 pm but you'll be able to leave your luggage at the hotel reception if you can't find a flight until the evening. However, we highly recommend spending a couple of extra days here so that you can make the most of Hong Kong. If you're interested, we can help you book additional accommodation (subject to availability).